Does the 'Venom' Trailer Work Without Any Venom?

Tom Hardy showed off the first footage from his antihero film, but only its human half got the spotlight.

Tom Hardy didn't bring out the fangs for the Venom trailer, but he did bring out a classic Hardy monologue.

The first trailer highlights Hardy as Eddie Brock, shown here getting checked out at a hospital, presumably after an encounter with a certain alien symbiote. Did the trailer Sony hopes will help launch a shared universe of Spider-Man characters work, even without a look at the Marvel antihero? The team at Heat Vision takes a closer look.

Ryan Parker: I can't decide if this trailer is brilliant or a total dud. As I see it, they either have no CG shots completely rendered or they didn't want to give anything away. Perhaps they didn't want the Spider-Man 3 comparisons right out of the gate? But the problem is, some fanboys are going to be super annoyed now because of it, which is also not a great way to kick things off. 

Katie Kilkenny: I will be the first to admit that I'm a Tom Hardy fangirl, but this teaser set up an intriguing character study that suggests the film may be mining Brock's cerebral nature and emotional problems. It's easy to forget that Brock was a failed Daily Globe reporter, and that the reason he looks like the Rock is because he took up bodybuilding to quell his depression. That's a fascinating premise, and one that often gets overshadowed by what Venom looks like in the black costume. Besides, we see the alien symbiote gurgling in a test tube: Why not leave the costume until, at the very least, the real trailer? 

Couch: Consider this an early Venom present. Tom Hardy wrapped shooting at the end of January, so they aren't going to have Venom's look perfected eight months away from the release. And remember, Hardy was only cast in May, so the fact that the first trailer is here already is impressive. The whole process on this movie reminds me of X-Men: First Class — a film that had a quick production timeline that generated some skepticism, but one that moved along swiftly and competently. (Forget months or years of postproduction and reshoots like we've grown accustomed to with certain blockbuster movies.) I'm all aboard this Venom train.

Erik Hayden: What is the message in this 1:49 teaser of its new hopeful franchise-in-the-making, besides "Trust in a brooding Tom Hardy"? There's clinical superhero origin story "things go wrong in medical room" shots, location footage of the Golden Gate bridge, villain-y looking SUVs being totaled in a motorcycle chase, and a guy opening up a door to a burbling case of alien goop. Plus, an agonized Hardy expression. For a closely watched property, there wasn't much venom (sorry) in this fangless first look.

Patrick Shanley: That being the case, I would have preferred them to not release a trailer, then, and wait for it to be ready. We got four different shots of Tom Hardy's back as he was walking into dimly lit sets. Counter that with the zero shots we saw of what Venom will actually look and we are left with a trailer that does absolutely nothing to drum up interest for me. 

Kilkenny: In contrast, I was intrigued because of the shots of Hardy's back. Given the way Hardy is slouching in those shots, and the Long Island accent that pervades the voiceover, it seems that Hardy's again going to give an idiosyncratic performance here. (At the very least, he isn't mumbling — sorry, Bane fans.) The excellent Locke, which was literally a one hour and 30 minute movie of Tom Hardy's expressions as he makes calls on a long drive, proved that even with little action, Hardy has the chops to pull off a tricky and emotionally complex performance. Heck, I would watch Hardy emoting in that CAT scan machine for two hours.

Couch: Locke is a great example — everyone go watch Locke if you haven't seen it. Hardy to me is like Tom Cruise in the sense that even if he's in an imperfect project, he's still extremely watchable. Worst-case scenario, we will be getting an interesting Tom Hardy performance. Best case, we'll be getting a game-changing comic book movie.

Parker: I like Tom Hardy a lot, I do, but he is going to have to be incredible in this for me to believe he is Eddie Brock. Watching this trailer of him walking around town and then freaking out on a stretcher just made me think, "Oh, well, there's Tom Hardy and he is kind of doing stuff. Cool, I guess." 

Couch A key thing this trailer confirms for me is that Sony is finally trying to do something interesting with its Spider-Man properties after that long, good-movie dry spell between 2004's Spider-Man 2 and last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming. We've gotten two wildly different Marvel trailers (Venom and Fox's Deadpool 2) in as many days — and neither of them are Marvel Studios movies. Sony is giving the world Silver and Black (Feb. 8, 2019), which will beat Captain Marvel by one month to be the first Marvel-branded film to be helmed by a woman since 2008's Punisher: War Zone. It's a reminder that for all of the complaining fans have done over the years about other studios having the rights to these properties, now that things are becoming increasingly consolidated under Disney, there's something to be said about Sony still having a piece of the pie. 

Parker: I feel like the biggest hurdle this movie is going to have to overcome is the lingering bad taste — and yes, for some of us it is still there — of the Topher Grace incarnation. Never have I been so disappointed with a character I grew up loving in the comics. And I really think that may be a reason why they stayed clear of any Venom images in this teaser. 

Shanley: The thing is, though, in Spider-Man 3 the actual Venom part of the character wasn't the issue. In fact, I thought they did a good job of translating the black gooey monster man I grew up loving from page to screen quite nicely. The problem, as you said, is that Grace was the literal worst choice they could have made, barring maybe Bette Midler. Hardy, on the other hand, is a great choice. I would just like to actually see Venom in a trailer for Venom. The movie isn't called Eddie Brock, for crying out loud.

Couch: Batman Begins came out seven years after Batman & Robin. I don't think 11-year-old Spider-Man 3 is tainting this at all.

Kilkenny: But let us not forget those awful scenes of the alien symbiote making Peter Parker "cool" and insufferably cocky despite the fact that he's wearing a Land's End sweater.


Venom opens Oct. 5.